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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

High School Swingers - The NDP Party vote and the 2011 Election in Ontario

Having downloaded the numbers and put them together in our Excel file, we can begin poking around the underbelly of Ontario politics to see which voters have been moving around the most between elections.

As you know, there were elections in Ontario for provincial parliament in 2007 and 2011. The first saw Dalton McGuinty's Liberals returned with a majority, while the second saw them reduced to a minority government, or a "major minority", as Premier McGuinty put it at the time, as they were one seat away from being able to withstand a confidence vote.

One of the factors that led to a minority government in Queen's Park, was the fact that the third-party New Democrats under new leader Andrea Horwath increased their seat take: they nearly doubled their seats, going from winning 10 in the 2007 election in Ontario, to 17 after the polls of 2011.

Queen's Park

What's the secret behind their relative success? We're going to be prodding around at the numbers to see what we can make of them, using advanced statistical techniques, and some not so advanced. For now we're going to use the caveman's club, the simple correlation between the increase in two sets of numbers, or CORREL in Excel.

Then we're going to do it massively, abusing numbers and figures and all of science. We should take this opportunity to note that we're aware that looking at riding-level census data to find patterns among individual voters is not the ideal way of going about things. And that due to the limitations of the 2001 census, this data is only for southern Ontario (ROO as we've called it on this site a few times, i.e. not the 11 ridings of northern Ontario). 

The High Numbers

But for now, let's look at the top 10 increases in correlations for the NDP.  Here is the raw data.
Name of DemographicIncrease in correlation ( r )
Education 15 and over: High school certificate or equivalent (67)0.21
Education 35 to 64: High school certificate or equivalent (79)0.21
Total pop, Location of study: No postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree0.21
Total Pop: No postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree0.21
Employed, 15 and over, transport: Car, truck, van, as passenger0.20
Education 15 to 24: No certificate, diploma or degree0.19
Labour 15 and over, ind cat.: Manufacturing0.18
Education 25 to 34: Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma0.18
Labour 15 and over: H Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations0.18
Labour 15 and over: J Occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities0.18
Education 25 to 34: High school certificate or equivalent (75)0.16
Education 15 and over: No certificate, diploma or degree0.16
Education 35 to 64: No certificate, diploma or degree0.15
Males 17 years0.15
Education 15 and over: College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma (68)0.15
16 years0.15
Canadian citizens under age 180.15
Males 16 years0.15

My, what an unappetizing jumble. On the left are the 2006 Census categories, while on the right are the differences in correlation ( 2011 r minus 2007 r ).

What it Means

In plain English, the biggest jump for the NDP came from those with a high school education only. The Census data regurgitates this group in several ways and for various age segments. The next largest comes among those who dropped out of high school.

Number three is very interesting to me. A large jump in support for the NDP among car or truck passengers. Has the NDP been making gains in the carpool? The census data is from 2006, when gas was relatively cheaper, and before the Great Recession. We can only wonder how this might play out with more recent figures.

Edit: Looking at the more middling figures, we see there was a gain in support among drivers as well (+0.14 change in r), though not as high as passengers. This was also a greater shift than any PC gains.

I'm reminded of John Lorinc's columns on the NDP's relationship with mass transit, or rather about his bewilderment that there was not more of a push for more transit from the New Democrats.  Sayeth Lorinc:
"It’s tough not to wonder whether Horwath has decided to blow off this file and all the votes that go with it. Maybe the NDP wants only to be the party of the public sector unions and the remote hinterland, content to leave the messy business of urban affairs to the Tories."
 And then here we see this increase in support from automobile users. Perhaps the Dippers know something we don't.

Carpool parking sign

 Between more education-related info to the effect that voters with high school and less are increasingly drawn to the NDP, we see that the NDP has won over some manufacturing workers, some tradesmen and, not surprisingly, those educated in the trades. 

Another interesting thing to note: Young people, especially young men. We have heard a lot of stories in recent years about youth unemployment, boomerang children, and so on. The "16 years" group, and the "Males 16/17 years" would be in their early twenties for the 2011 election, facing these issues first-hand, and quite possibly still living with their parents (The census data presents a lot of cohort interpretation issues). An examination by the author of Andrea Horwath's twitter feed, meanwhile, shows a lot of attention to youth employment / underemployment.

This decidedly male skew of support for a left-wing party led by a woman is not entirely surprising. Based on my own observations, young men seem to have a harder time getting into the labour market in Ontario. 

For example, I was in a Starbucks at Bathurst and Queen on Sunday (I didn't order anything), and of the four people working, four were women (including one with gigantic ear plugs which I'm not even sure Starbucks allows their workers to wear). If there is a front door for young men in the service economy, they don't seem to be finding it.

Day 371: It's Cool to Fake Romances
Young People on the Rails
Soon we'll be looking at the biggest losses of NDP support in 2011.


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